Random Thoughts

The Evolution of My New Years Eves

... I have gone full circle ...

by Ann Robbins Talbot

I wonder when a child realizes that millions of people are celebrating the beginning of a new year. The year Mom
and Dad dress in formal clothes to have a late dinner at an elegant restaurant? The year that glitzy new year
decorations replace Christmas symbols as Mom and Dad get ready to host a party of friends? The year you finally
have a television set that shows Times Square at midnight in black and white? The year you were old enough to
have a date on December 31? As I reflect, I cannot remember which year it was for me.

I do recall that skating was important in my early celebrations. As a high school junior I was invited to Lynn
Arena for the evening. We skated the evening away, clearing the ice every so often for an entertaining figure
skating feature, a musical group, a comedian or a magician. It was great fun and I didn’t have to dress up. A
few years later my high school sweetheart bought tickets to the Ice Capades’ Midnight Show at Boston Garden. We
took the familiar route from Wyoming to North Station to watch the pros perform beautiful dances, amazing chorus
routines and traditional numbers like comedians Frick and Frack and the Old Smoothies in tuxedo and gown. (These
names may have been from the Ice Follies when my mother took me as a child for my birthday.) The production
transformed the Garden hockey rink into a gorgeous theater of colored lights and swirling designs in the ice. As
a college senior I spent part of my winter vacation with my boyfriend’s family in Marion. On New Years Eve a
multi-age group from his church met at a pond in the woods complete with lantern light, cocoa and hot dogs
cooked over the bonfire. It was New England at its best reminiscent of the Fells woods where we tried out new
skates on Christmas mornings.

The New Years Eve that Dick and I were engaged (1957) we went to our first house party. One of our friends from
Trailblazers Day Camp invited all former counselors to reunite to greet the new year in Andover. This was
particularly fun because we had rarely seen this group all dressed up and never in winter clothes. At midnight
we all formed a circle to sing Auld Lang Syne and without missing a beat launched into They Built the Ship
Titanic, our favorite camp song.

For our first New Years as a married couple we really hadn’t planned anything. Many of our teacher-friends were
going into Boston which did not appeal to us. We spent the evening with a couple who had five children squashed
into a small apartment while awaiting the construction of their new house to be finished. We had some snacks and
a few drinks, but the most fun was sitting at their kitchen table playing the games the kids had received for
Christmas while the kids slept. Besides Sorry and Parcheesi, we had a ball playing a Go to the Head of the Class
tournament. I cannot even remember how the game was played, but we had a grand time.

The following year our neighborhood had bonded and we planned a house party next door. We all brought appetizers
and our own drinks, our stories, our opinions and our jokes, getting to know one another really well. It was so
much fun and so convenient that we repeated the round-robin party for fifty-two years. At midnight we all
assembled to watch the ball drop in Times Square and to kiss everyone in the room who had grown to be more like
brothers and sisters than neighbors.

The only time we deviated from this format was the night that 2000 came. We hosted “New Years Eve Eve” having
our celebration the night before so we could watch the world greet the new millennium -- time zone by time zone
on tv. During the years we have lost most of the original group, our last party numbering only five. Now the new
year will have to arrive with us “snug in our beds”. I have gone full circle, not joining the millions who are
celebrating the arrival of 2014.

January 3, 2014

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